It is always nice to see fine art work of any breed. Of course, it is even nicer when the artist is also infatuated with your own breed. While Jennifer Stewart started off obsessed with horses, she quickly moved on to dogs and has never looked back. “About 20 years ago I met and fell in love with my first Belgian Tervuren. Since then, I have developed tunnel vision when it comes to picking a puppy. Matter of fact, I type this with Terv puppy number 4 chewing on my toes. I think you just know when you find the breed that checks all the boxes on your wish list (I admit to having an unusual wish list!)”. Jennifer does admit that, besides Belgians, the graceful and elegant sighthounds such as Borzoi, Saluki and Afghans also tend to make her heart beat a little faster and present as visual poetry.
Jennifer’s love of art started with a sketch pad and sitting in front of the TV drawing the animals on wildlife shows. As with so many young women, horses also flowed across her drawing pad. Still, she admits that sculptures are her favorite medium. “As much as I love to draw and paint, I am a true “Mud head”. From very early on I loved the feeling of clay squishing through my hands. I don’t remember ever wanting anything other than to be an artist.”
Luckily Jennifer had the support of her parents and was able to exhibit with a number of traveling art circuits. Doing portrait work – people and animals – helped to pay her expenses through college. She majored in Sculpture and Illustration at Cal State Fullerton.
Still, even though sculpture continues to “call her name,” Jennifer also works in watercolor, acrylic, pyrography (wood or leather burning) and other flat mediums. The exact medium used and the number of subjects in a piece of art influence how long a work will take. Unlike some artists who work on one project at a time, having many irons in the fire stimulates Jennifer. “ I always have 4 or 5 projects in progress at a time – so while one is drying, I can be working on a sketch for another, painting another and firing another and so on. For me, rotating from one medium to another keeps it interesting and challenging, and by breaking up the timeline I gain distance and a fresh eye, so I feel the end product is better because of it.” I have works from her in both porcelain and prints so I can attest to the beauty of both mediums.
Contests and competitions have not played a big part in Jennifer’s success. She does consider her work for a number of AKC clubs creating trophies for their National Specialties to be jewels in her crown. “This is one of the most challenging but rewarding types of work for me, and I have learned a great deal from representatives of these breed clubs.” With her love of Belgians, Jennifer was especially honored to show her work last year at the Nationale d’Elevage in Aubigny sur-Nere, France at the international show for the four Belgian Shepherd breeds/varieties.
It is hard for Jennifer to pick a favorite piece. She feels it changes as she has new creations but a life sized portrat bust she did of a Belgian Tervuren, entitled “Simple Pleasures” has found a permanent place in her home. “It is a life-study of my own Terv Wiley, who happily sat for countless hours with that dopey blue ball in his mouth, staring at me while I worked on the sculpture. I lost Wiley to stomach cancer a little over a year ago and can feel his joyous, loving gaze when I am near that sculpture. The process of making art truly is a way to mark a moment in time, and having that precious Terv love me is an honor I will never forget.” Many favorite pieces of dog art that grace fanciers home are just that – a reflection of a moment in time with their beloved canines.
Jennifer would like to emphasize that many people have helped and influenced her along the way. She feels that her interactions with breeders and owners even influences how she feels about and comes to see a certain breed. With her multitude of mediums available, owners can choose the exact artwork that they feel will best represent their own special dog. You can see some of Jennifer’s exquisite pieces at her website – http://artforanimallovers.com/index.html. Jenneifer says her Facebook page has even more information so you might want to look there too.